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The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals | [Michael Pollan]

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

"What should we have for dinner?" To one degree or another, this simple question assails any creature faced with a wide choice of things to eat. Anthropologists call it the omnivore's dilemma. Choosing from among the countless potential foods nature offers, humans have had to learn what is safe, and what isn't. Today, as America confronts what can only be described as a national eating disorder, the omnivore's dilemma has returned with an atavistic vengeance.
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Publisher's Summary

The best-selling author of The Botany of Desire explores the ecology of eating to unveil why we consume what we consume in the 21st century.

"What should we have for dinner?" To one degree or another, this simple question assails any creature faced with a wide choice of things to eat. Anthropologists call it the omnivore's dilemma. Choosing from among the countless potential foods nature offers, humans have had to learn what is safe, and what isn't, which mushrooms should be avoided, for example, and which berries we can enjoy. Today, as America confronts what can only be described as a national eating disorder, the omnivore's dilemma has returned with an atavistic vengeance.

The cornucopia of the modern American supermarket and fast-food outlet has thrown us back on a bewildering landscape where we once again have to worry about which of those tasty-looking morsels might kill us. At the same time we're realizing that our food choices also have profound implications for the health of our environment. The Omnivore's Dilemma is best-selling author Michael Pollan's brilliant and eye-opening exploration of these little-known but vitally important dimensions of eating in America.

We are indeed what we eat, and what we eat remakes the world. A society of voracious and increasingly confused omnivores, we are just beginning to recognize the profound consequences of the simplest everyday food choices, both for ourselves and for the natural world. The Omnivore's Dilemma is a long-overdue book and one that will become known for bringing a completely fresh perspective to a question as ordinary and yet momentous as "What shall we have for dinner?"

©2006 Michael Pollan; (P)2006 Penguin Audio

What the Critics Say

  • National Book Critics Circle 2006 Award Finalist, Nonfiction

"Remarkably clearheaded book....A fascinating journey up and down the food chain." (Publishers Weekly)
"His supermeticulous reporting is the book's strength - you're not likely to get a better explanation of where your food comes from....In an uncommonly good year for American food writing, this is a book that stands out." (The New York Times Book Review)
"Completely charming." (Nora Ephron)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (3955 )
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  •  
    Evan gunnison, CO, USA 09-22-07
    Evan gunnison, CO, USA 09-22-07
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    1
    Overall
    "we should think about our food more"

    Pollan does an excellent job of investigating the current state of our food system. The historical and scientific background information is especially valuable. I found the book easy to listen to and fascinating.

    My only minor quibble is with how much of a fan Pollan clearly is of his new friends, the sustainable farmers and foragers. He loses a small amount of credibility by becoming so personally involved. Some of this personal involvement adds pleasant levity to the title, as well, so it's not a major problem.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    PLR San Rafael, CA 08-23-07
    PLR San Rafael, CA 08-23-07 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    26
    5
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Excellent"

    I have talked about this book to numerous friend's and have really been moved by what it said. This is not just a book, but a piece of our culture. I think it should be required reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Liz Forestville, CA, USA 08-15-07
    Liz Forestville, CA, USA 08-15-07 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    1
    Overall
    "vital and scholarly"

    If you made it to this the 42nd review, I would like to share a quick testamony. How we handle the land that feeds us is not a small matter. This book is a tome, a large and deeply researched piece, not to be confused with entertainment. After working in the health food industry and watching, first hand, much of what this book has to tell, I cannot put words on how grateful I am this information has been gathered and presented.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Moorpark, CA, USA 07-28-07
    David Moorpark, CA, USA 07-28-07 Member Since 2007
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    15
    1
    Overall
    "Thought provoking"

    Informative on many levels... thought provoking...
    and buying local is now emphasized in my purchasing decisions...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason Lafayette, LA, USA 07-22-07
    Jason Lafayette, LA, USA 07-22-07
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    1
    Overall
    "Food will never look the same again"

    This book changed the way I view food. I promise you'll never look at a supermarket, a farmed field or a plate of food the same way again. It offers a holistic view of everything from our industrial mono-culture society to the undercurrent of change running beneath it. This book is amazing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vince Sebastopol, CA, USA 07-10-07
    Vince Sebastopol, CA, USA 07-10-07
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    "very informative"

    This makes you think twice about what you put in your mouth. Very detailed and expansive look at where our food comes from.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    maxine pestronk 06-30-07
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    234
    1
    Overall
    "Omnivore's REPEAT"

    Would be a very interesting story if there were not as much repeated - probably could get it from 15 hours to about 8, and then it would be a very engaging story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hilary Los Angeles, CA, USA 06-25-07
    Hilary Los Angeles, CA, USA 06-25-07 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    62
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    16
    7
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    Overall
    "Sustainably Informative"

    Pollan's book was informative and researched. There's little manipulation here just the facts. As a vegetarian, I believed that I was making the "right and ethical" decision by eating what I could not kill. Pollan's book made me rethink everything with an eye towards sustainability and nature (would chickens as they are now be found in nature?). This book has truly changed my views on marketing, cooking and eating. The narrator is just perfect, too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brendon Kelly 06-12-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    19
    3
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    0
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    Overall
    "Great content. Good reader."

    The content of this ook was amazing and thought provoking.
    It really makes you THINK.
    The author is a bit wordy and long winded at times, but the rich content makes up for it.
    If you do not have a large vocabulary, you may get hung up on some of the authors overly styalized text.

    Some people dislike this reader, but i find his voice pleasant enough.

    I enjoyed this book, and recommend that everyone read/listen to it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary bearsville, NY, USA 06-09-07
    Gary bearsville, NY, USA 06-09-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    2
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Informative but snide on Capitalism"

    Overall I like the book, but the author's undercurrent of anti-capitalism constantly colors the useful information and production journey he takes us on. His asides habitually disparage the very things he marvels at - the innovation and productivity of man's quest for ever more efficient farming and corn processing technologies. His commentary continually criticizes man's thrust for production as an unholistic, and therefore tainted, endeavor, irrespective of the successes. If one can ignore the consistant smarmy parentheticals, the book is a wealth of in depth information on man and corn's life-locked symbiotic relationship. The book shows the history of corn and mankind's domestication of it by selective breeding into a species that is totally dependent upon man to pollinate and sow its life-cycle, and its consequent fruits yielded back to man. The book further goes into the intriguing analysis of how corn has become a feedstock for far more than food, and how without the agricultural innovations developed in the last century, the earth simply could not support more than 1/2 of the population it does today. The above relates mostly to Part One of the book, Part Two I did not find that interesting, even if it was somewhat inspiring, in a kind of starry-eyed, romanticized perspective of holistic farming in general. The latter Part of book did not deal so exclusively with corn but all kinds of ostensibly earth-friendly farming techniques, and how they are superior to industrial farming. But here the author truly outs himself as an advocate of anti-corporatism; this subdued prejudice against industry and capitalism seems to be driven more from a philosophy of holism and ecophilia, rather than from observation of the relative successes of the varying methods of farming. Buy the book for Part One. Part Two is something listen to when you don't have much else to do, and find yourself vegetating w/o other media.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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